Are you neglecting older employees?

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A leading figure in the field of diversity has said Kiwi employers should be doing more to connect with their older workforce after a recent study revealed more than 70 per cent have no specific strategy in place.

The latest New Zealand Diversity Survey revealed that 73 per cent of New Zealand employers are perceived as treating older workers – those aged over 55 – the same as their younger counterparts.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie – CEO of Diversity Works NZ – said it was gratifying to see the majority of local organisations aren’t discriminating due to age but warned that some older employees would like to see tailored initiatives.

“Many organisations feel that older workers don’t need special treatment. But when we spoke to workers in this age group as part of an earlier research project, they told us they want to have input into their job design to ensure it takes into account their specific needs,” she told HRM.

 According Cassidy-Mackenzie, this could mean anything from flexible working hours that fit around other commitment to ensuring tasks are compatible with their physical needs and preferences.

“They also want to be considered for training opportunities, rather being overlooked because of their age, and to be able to discuss their future options, whether that’s working more hours, fewer hours or moving towards a gradual retirement,” she said.

Cassidy-Mackenzie, who’s headed up the advisory firm since 2012, urged employers to ask more mature workers about what they want from their role and include them in decisions.

“Recognise their changing needs and provide communication that’s clear and accessible for them,” she said. “Give them the opportunity to mentor younger employees, establish training and development opportunities for this age group and work with them to design an age-friendly workplace.”

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